South Dakota has made abortion illegal in their state. Apparently, the law proscribes abortion, including abortions for pregnancies arising from rape. Obviously, there are a large group of opponents to this new law. One such oppponent has written a manual for performing an abortion at home. She is being heralded as a friend to the downtrodden women of South Dakota.

The lightening rod that this person and many others hold up for examination here is that not even pregnancies that are a result of rape are allowed to be aborted. Think about that for a minute. Rape is a horrible crime, worse than many other crimes because it horribly violates the woman’s person. Everyone can understand that, on some level. I do not, however, understand the idea that the tiny life that results from this abominable crime should be murdered. When is the murder of an innocent life an acceptable punishment of a crime that is only incidentally related to the existance of this person? Does this murder absolve the crime? Hardly.

I can understand a woman not wanting to raise a child that was fathered by a rapist. I don’t think anyone could fault her for allowing the child to be adopted. I do, however, weep for a nation who finds murder of an innocent to be a good and proper response to the heinous crime of another. I stand amazed when there is outcry against a law that makes this sort of indiscriminate murder illegal.

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  1. This post seems to be violating “Jacob’s First Law of Blogging” (http://www.notblog.com/soulfood/archives/003420.html)

    Or perhaps you have culled the dissenters from your readership?

  2. I really doubt the South Dakota law (which takes effect in July, FWIW) will stand up to judicial scrutiny. There aren’t quite enough votes on the Supreme Court to uphold it, assuming there’s nothing wrong with it, and that Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Roberts don’t mind overturning precedent (former pair may be assumed, the latter I’m not sure about).

    To my mind, especially given the lack of exceptions for rape and incest, it looks like a political stunt, rather than a well-reasoned law. (‘Course, I’m not a lawyer, so what do I know?)

  3. Whoops! Didn’t bother to bridge that to the actual topic under discussion.

    In any case, Molly’s advice seems basically irresponsible (an abortion is not a procedure that carries zero risk), the more so since there’s not really a demonstrable need for it (yet, anyway). I appreciate that she means well, though I disagree rather heartily with her on the subject.

    I can’t say I understand the abortion-as-elective-procedure thing, either. There are situations in which it may be medically necessary, but I can’t say that I’ve heard of anyone proposing to restrict abortions absolutely.

  4. [I saw this only because of RGSB]

    Note that George W Bush is one of those who is in favor of letting abortions be allowed in cases of rape and incest (as well as health of mother).

    And yes, I don’t think there’s much doubt this is a stunt, just like the late term abortion ban a couple years ago which lacked an exception for health of the mother. While the late term ban was more a stunt for purely political gains, this one could probably be considered a bit more reasonable since it will serve the purpose of testing the Supreme Court waters after the new justices. But yes, there are still 5 people there who have a record of overturning such things, which is why the stunt label should stick to this. It will be a waste of resources more than anything.

    As the linked-to article mentions, giving birth is not a procedure that carries zero risk either, which is why it seems unlikely that any ban will ever be allowed to stand which does not include at least the health-of-the-mother exception.

  5. I’m with Dave. Of course, the real problem is that the pro-infanticide crowd refuse to acknowledge that the babies are human.

    I don’t think that this law will make it through the current SCOTUS. The question is, will GWB have a chance to nominate another justice before the end of his term? If so, then chances are that justice will be sitting on the bench before this case reaches SCOTUS, and then a 5-4 decision overturning Roe is possible. One can only hope. . .not that I’m entirely sure that we’d be better off without Roe as precedent. But that’s another subject entirely.

  6. And oh yeah: in the spirit of JFK (well, not really, since I’m sure he was all for destroying any evidence of his dalliances through whatever means necessary), today “Ich bin ein South Dakoter!”

  7. Does that mean “I am a bear claw”?

  8. hah! Good “interpretation” Dan. 😛

  9. No, the real problem is people who believe that a zygote is a legally distinct entity that should be given all the rights and privileges of a cognizant, self-aware human being instead of being treated like what they actually are, potential humans. A zygote cannot reason, it cannot feel pain or emotions, it cannot respond or form a thought. It does not have the nervous system with which to think or react. Why is it people want to ascribe humanity to things that are less “human” (using language, understanding abstract concepts, showing social bonds and emotional connections, using tools, and feeling pain) than dolphins and chimpanzees and dogs which enjoy exactly zero legal rights? Why do we allow indiscriminate murder of pigs and cattle in horrible torturous ways yet bawl and wail at the loss of something less sentient than a crawdad? Do we hold funerals for every miscarriage every woman ever has? Do we write out death certificates every time a pregnancy fails to carry to term?

    The fundamental lie here is the attempt to brand a fetus or a fertilized egg with the same label we use for the person we engage in conversation on the street. It is perfectly understandable, after all people will universally ascribe human emotions and responses to inanimate objects merely because they have “eyes”, particularly teddy bears. But the only arguments against abortion are emotional and slightly hysterical. Rational arguments all favor keeping abortion legal.

  10. Kent,

    First, it sounds like you might be confusing functions of the mammalian part of the brain with functions of the neocortex (which as far as I understand only primates have).

    At the risk of a emotional response from folks, I genuinely want to know, given your analysis of species, functions, etc., would it be your position that a dolphin is more important than a retarded child? I am definitely curious as to where the value of a human is cut off. Feel free to email me if you don’t want to discuss it here.

  11. Not all rational arguments favor abortion, unless, I suppose, one presumes a particularly crass sort of materialism. In which case, what is the value of a human life over a animal’s, whatever the stage of development? So, let us first assume that humanity, being the quality or qualities (for the sake of discussion, these may be assumed to be primarily biological) that makes us human rather than not, is more valuable in its presence than its absence.

    Assuming normal development, a zygote will be a person. If the value of a human life is in its potential (and, philosophically, we may take such a tack, and so circumvent religious argument), a zygote is, indeed, a person. Unless you would like to argue that human life is of more limited potential simply because it’s yet unborn (but that would be silly: the potential is the same, whether born or unborn, only the status has changed). A pig, a chimp, or a dolphin will never be a human being (obviously, barring the unforeseeable).

    As regards miscarriages, no, we generally don’t have funerals for every miscarried child. Of course, many societies did not, and don’t, give children a name until they’re at least a year old. The mortality of new life is not an argument for its ahumanity, and neither are the ways society copes with that mortality.

    Backing up just a bit, if human life is not intrinsically valuable, then the whole argument is moot. Murder is as sanctionable as abortion, if the society or the individual, respectively, feel better off as a result. If that’s the case, doesn’t that, if you’ll pardon the blatant appeal to tradition and populism, seem to suggest that our past understanding of justice might be so deeply flawed as to be nonsensical? Is that really a position you intend to take?

    Re: health of the mother exception
    Actually, as I understand it, the South Dakota law includes an exemption in the case of the mother’s life, much as, I think, the Roe decision itself initially did, and as the original interpretation was expected to mean (the info on Roe in that sentence undoubtedly comes from a conservative website somewhere, so keep in mind that you can’t trust those dastardly originalists to mean what they say!). The major reason, then, for making the exemption a matter of the mother’s life, rather than her health, would be to prevent future re-interpretation to include presumptions of possibly deleterious effects to the mental health of the mother-to(-not)-be, as has already done (see the Casey decision).

  12. I know people who have had funerals for stillborn children.

  13. I’m not surprised that it’s been done (the qualifier ‘every’ was intended), though I don’t know if anyone I’ve known has done so, nor recall if I’ve heard of it before now. I’ve certainly heard of people grieving over miscarried pregnancies and stillborn children, and see no fault in either the grief or the expression thereof (quite the contrary!).

    I’m under the impression that it’s a relatively uncommon thing, is all.

  14. As others have intoned, it’s all a matter of perspective. Kent claims that the zygote is not human. Obviously, Kent has a more firm grasp on the meaning of what it is to be human than I, because I’m confused about what we do with infants, those in a coma, people with brain injuries, the elderly, the mentally infirm, etc…

    Apparently there is now an entrance exam for becoming human?

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